Professor Philippa Howden-Chapman
The New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities (CSC) has been set up to further develop collaborative research that contributes to the sustainable development of our cities. Over 87 per cent of our population live in urban environments, so we face a challenge to keep our cities sustainable and competitively attractive in international terms, and the people within them healthy and socially connected.
The centre builds on a strong existing network of expertise. It is a partnership, led by the University of Otago, of six universities - Otago, Canterbury, Victoria, Massey, Waikato and Auckland - two Crown Research Institutes, Landcare and NIWA and BRANZ. It is positioned to work with regional councils, territorial local authorities and national agencies, with national frameworks that can accelerate urban sustainability.
The centre aims to work in partnerships to develop the tools to promote well-being and health through smarter economic development, safer and more sustainable housing, transport and energy systems, and enhanced urban design. The centre is also seeking ways to support workforce development and increase the skills of those working on urban sustainability.
The research group is inter-disciplinary, including social scientists, public health specialists, physicists, geographers, engineers, economists, sociologists and Māori researchers.
The centre is planning to develop an innovative set of linked programmes that explore key factors for developing sustainable cities policies. This will include a programme of knowledge exchange and synthesis about urban sustainability initiatives, and research to improve stakeholders' access to relevant knowledge. The appraisal and measurement tools developed will enable sustainability choices and consequences to be made more explicit across sectors and jurisdictions.
Fundamentally, this will be programme of conceptual and empirical research on strategicurban sustainability questions that will provide a focus for future research and policy development.